The First

 

All testimony and family traditions ascribed to this ancient family show that it is of French origin, and it is supposed that the early ancestors came from and had their seat at "Berrien," now a town of considerable size in the department of Finis Terre. Concurrent traditions existing in diverse branches of the family declare that their ancestor was Huguenot, who, during the civil wars of France, was forced to flee and took refuge in Holland.

Cornelius Jansen Berrien arrived in Flatbush (now a section of Brooklyn) in 1669. With him came his wife Jannetie, (daughter of Jan Stryker), whom he had married in 1652. He was the first of the name that emigrated to this country, and became the common progenitor of the family here. Being a person of character and education, he was appointed to fill positions of trust and held offices in the town government and was a deacon of the Dutch Church. In 1683, by appointment of the Colonial Assembly, he served as one of a commission to levy a special tax in the province. In 1685 he moved to Newtown, Long Island, where, during the previous year he and his brother-in-law, Abraham Brinckerhoff, had bought over four hundred acres of land at the head of Flushing Bay, which they afterward divided. He died at Newtown in 1688, and his widow married secondly, Samuel Edsall, Esq.